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What I Read Lately

I’ve been on a good roll with reading this year and I’ve had a few good ones lately so I wanted to share them now! I’m hoping to get back into some heavy reading this year, and most of the books I’ve read in recent months have been great. I’m always taking suggestions for books I should read/review, so comment below or shoot me an email if you have any recommendations. Without further adieu, let’s dive in.

NEXT YEAR IN HAVANA

Synopsis: This book tells the story of a grandmother [Elisa] in Havana, 1958. She is part of Cuba’s high society, where she is largely sheltered from the country’s growing political unrest—until she embarks on a clandestine affair with a passionate revolutionary. The other half of the story is told from her grandaughter, Marisol’s, point of view in Miami, 2017. She grew up hearing romantic stories of Cuba from her late grandmother Elisa, who was forced to flee with her family during the revolution. Elisa’s last wish was for Marisol to scatter her ashes in the country of her birth. Marisol travels to Cuba and finds the contrast of Cuba’s tropical, timeless beauty and its perilous political climate. When more family history comes to light and Marisol finds herself attracted to a man with secrets of his own, she’ll need the lessons of her grandmother’s past to help her understand the true meaning of courage.

Would I Recommend It: OH MY GOD. This is one of the best books I’ve read in years. I simply couldn’t put it down. The story-telling is masterful but not intimidating. The characters are developed so well and for a historical fiction romance, there is so much [non-fiction] history to learn. You absolutely fall in love with these characters and your heart breaks for them learning of all the hardships they’ve faced just by being Cuban. This book had notes of The Nightingale and The Alice Network [two of my all-time favorites]. While obviously not World War II, the stories of strong women that run parallel against war are fantastic. I definitely recommend this one.

BLUEBIRD, BLUEBIRD

Synopsis: When it comes to law and order, East Texas plays by its own rules — a fact that Darren Mathews, a black Texas Ranger, knows all too well. Deeply ambivalent about growing up black in the lone star state, he was the first in his family to get as far away from Texas as he could. When his allegiance to his roots puts his job in jeopardy, he travels up Highway 59 to the small town of Lark, where two murders — a black lawyer from Chicago and a local white woman — have stirred up a hornet’s nest of resentment. Darren must solve the crimes — and save himself in the process — before Lark’s long-simmering racial fault lines erupt. B

Would I Recommend It: This was an entirely gripping read. The mystery itself had twists and turns, but the character development of Darren, along with learning more and more about the supporting characters, was truly well-done. I also couldn’t put this one down. I really liked the writing style and the small-town goings-on were written in a sophisticated way that was both captivating and heart-breaking. If you like mysteries, give this one a go. One thing to note is that there are quite a few characters and it can get a bit confusing, so pay attention! This was a book club pick and we all had a lengthy discussion on who was who and how they were all intertwined.

EVERYTHING I NEVER TOLD YOU

Synopsis: This is the story Chinese American family living in 1970s small-town Ohio. Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee, and her parents are determined that she will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue. But when Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together is destroyed, tumbling them into chaos. This is a sensitive family portrait, uncovering the ways in which mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, and husbands and wives struggle, all their lives, to understand one another.

Would I Recommend It: This book had me in absolute tears at the end. It gave me so much pause as a parent in regards to expectations, communication, and the difference between motivation and simply pushing someone too far/away. Every family member has secrets to harbor of their own and the way they all wove together was done masterfully by Ng. I highly recommend this book, especially to parents. This was a tragedy in more ways than one and I thought about it for days after completion.

LEAVE THE WORLD BEHIND

Synopsis: Leave the World Behind explores how our closest bonds are reshaped—and unexpected new ones are forged—in moments of crisis. Amanda and Clay head out to a remote corner of Long Island expecting a vacation: a quiet reprieve from life in New York City, quality time with their teenage son and daughter, and a taste of the good life in the luxurious home they’ve rented for the week. But a late-night knock on the door from Ruth and G. H brings everything to a halt. They are an older couple—it’s their house, and they’ve arrived in a panic. They bring the news that a sudden blackout has swept the city. But in this rural area—with the TV and internet now down, and no cell phone service—it’s hard to know what to believe. What’s really going on back in New York? Is the whole world affected? A series of strange noises bring on even stranger consequences and the families must make choices that can impact the rest of their lives, however long that may be.

Would I Recommend It: I did not save the best for last this go. This one was …..different. It had so much potential, but fell beyond flat. This one is hard to talk about on here without spoilers, but the “end of the world” element of the story was not developed properly [at all] and if I’m being honest, a whole lot of nothing happened here, when I was expected a whole apocalyptical barrage. Also, there were some weirdly explicit sex scenes that did not need to be that way?! Bizarre. This is actually this month’s book club pick, so I cannot wait to talk about this one because I simultaneously have so many questions and am speechless!

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